How to say ‘NO’ in a sticky situation?

Situation No.1: Saying No To An Invitation
We sometimes have to decline even the most exciting invitations. Of course, between you and me, there are also invitations we’re only too glad to say no to. In any case, you always need to be polite and express your appreciation. Try one of these approaches:

 “Thank you. I’d really love to, but unfortunately I can’t. Maybe some other time.”

“That sounds wonderful. I’m so sorry I have to say no. I have other plans that day. But I really appreciate the invitation. I’m sure you all will have a good time.”

“Oh, I already have plans for tonight. I’m sorry, but thanks for thinking of me. Maybe we could get together sometime next week instead.”

Situation No.2: Saying No To A Request For Help
It’s not possible to help everyone in need. If you’re unable to provide assistance when asked, offer your regrets with kindness:

 “I really wish I could help you out, but my hands are tied.” (That is, you aren’t in a position to offer help.)

“If it were any other day, I’d say yes, but you really caught me at a bad time. I’m so sorry.”

Situation No.3: Saying No To A Request For Action
Sometimes we’re asked to do things that we’re simply unwilling to do. Avoid saying no simply out of stubbornness. Offer a reasonable explanation why you can’t comply with the request.


To a roommate who wants to sleep in darkness, say: “Sorry. I need to finish studying for a test tomorrow. I’ll turn the light off as soon as I’m done.”

To a co-worker who wants to jump in line at the photocopier: “Sorry. I’m in a bit of rush myself.”

To a sibling who wants you to do his or her chores: “Sorry. No can do.”

Situation No.4: Saying No To Praise
A compliment should be accepted with grace, but high praise can be rejected. When words go beyond kind and elevate you or your deed to a position that makes you feel extremely uncomfortable, you can politely contradict the speaker:

“Thank you, you’re too kind.”
“Well, thank you. I appreciate the support. I’m sure not everyone would agree with you.”
“Thank you, but I can’t take all the credit. There are others who put in a lot of effort.”

Situation No.5: Saying No To An Offer Of Help
There are many situations when people offer help or service of some kind that we don’t require. Be polite and keep it simple.


To a server at a restaurant: “Thank you. We’re all set.”
To a porter at a hotel or train station: “Thank you, but I can manage.”
To a boss or supervisor: “Thank you. I appreciate the offer, but that won’t be necessary.

Situation No.6: Saying No To A Suggestion
People who are close to us like to make suggestions and offer advice. You’re entitled to accept or reject their ideas. If you choose not to follow someone’s advice, show appreciation for the person’s care:

“Look, I really appreciate your concern, but I want to handle this on my own.”
“Thanks. I know you mean well, but I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

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